Source: Rosebank Killarney Gazette (Extract)
April 1 2021

Portrait photographer Emma O’Brien wants to shed a positive light on shelter dogs and encourage adoption through her latest free exhibition in Rosebank.

Having begun her career as a wedding photographer in the UK in 2004, O’Brien moved into dog portrait photography unexpectedly in 2011 when she adopted sausage-dog Jeremy from the Sandton SPCA .“I got chatting to the committee there and offered to help them raise funds,” she explained. Now, she helps the team produce a calendar each year and produced a ‘Mutts book’ in 2017 for fundraising purposes.

“Dogs are super fun to work with and always very happy. People want to keep beautiful memories of their four-legged friends as the time goes by so quickly.” She said that taking a decent photograph of a shelter dog not only increases the chance of the animal being adopted, but helps people to look at the dog outside of its caged environment at a rescue centre.

Her Dog Magic exhibition at FOTO ZA gallery in Rosebank features 40 images of dogs in four separate series in order to create a positive and hopeful outlook on rescue dogs. The exhibit features photographs from the Mutts series including portraits of mixed-breed adopted dogs, bringing out their unique characters.

The Black Series features dramatic studio shoots of black dogs against black backgrounds in order to uplift the image of these dogs which are often the last to be rehomed. “It is a worldwide phenomenon in shelters. People have preconceptions that black dogs are boring, don’t photograph well and look aggressive. However, the exhibit shows that they are all unique and different.”

The exhibition also features a collaboration between O’Brien and Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream showcasing posh pedigree dogs in a fun, fashion-style shoot. The final series showcased is Lap of luxury featuring brown dogs, which are common in South Africa, juxtaposed with the luxury of classy hotels. “The exhibit is about showcasing shelter dogs, the variety they come in and challenging perceptions that they are less desirable. I want people to be able to connect with these dogs and see them as valuable.”

The Dog Magic exhibit is free to visit until the end of April. Email to arrange a walk-through or receive further information concerning the exhibit.